CHARLENE GONZALES: MARRIAGE MAKES MY LIFE COMPLETE
Quezon City, August 28, 2002 (STAR) by Joanne Rae Ramirez - It is too early to conclude that in this showbiz fairy tale, the prince and princess are going to live happily ever after. They have, after all, been happy-ever-aftering for just over a year.
But if the life of Charlene Gonzalez and Aga Muhlach thus far were the subject of a romantic drama, viewers would be leaving the theater with a feel-good feeling. This is vintage Walt Disney, with the credits closing in on a castle (in Ayala Alabang) and the prince and princess riding off into the sunset.
Charlene herself says that her marriage to actor Aga Muhlach, one of showbiz’s most bankable and multi-awarded actors, is a dream come true.
"I have been telling people that if only I knew marriage was going to be this blissful, I would have done it a long time ago," smiles Charlene, visibly relaxed in a Zen-themed suite at the swank, newly opened Fraser Place Serviced Residences in Makati City.
"But of course, this is how I feel about marriage because it is Aga I am married to. I am married to the right person. Maybe that’s why I would not have done this several years back... because it would not have been to Aga. It makes a whole lot of difference."
The sparks between the couple were generated by physical attraction, surely, but it was their compatibility that kept the sparks flying.
"We found ourselves on the same plane," recalls Charlene, daughter of actor Bernard Bonnin and Elvie Gonzalez, a former beauty title holder herself. "Aga was prepared for a commitment. Aside from love being there, because love completes the picture, it helps to have a common goal. So you work towards it. This is easier for both of you when you are both on the same plane."
Charlene knew Aga since she was 11, but it was not until fate brought them to the same TV show that love bloomed under the klieg lights.
Aga reportedly proposed to Charlene in Singapore in August 2000 when the cast of their sitcom, Oki Doki Dok traveled to the Lion City.
When The STAR’s Ricky Lo broke the story of the couple’s engagement in September 2000, Aga and Charlene were reportedly shocked by the news leak. "Nobody," according to Ricky, "not even their gangmates, suspected that something romantic was going on between them. They were that secretive."
They had a fairy tale wedding in Baguio City in May last year, a wedding not without its fair share of controversies. Muhlach matriarch Amalia Fuentes did not approve of her once-favorite nephew’s beautiful bride, and snubbed the wedding.
But credit Charlene and Aga for making their marriage – and not just their wedding – the focus of their life together. Just as they had tried to keep their engagement their business, they are keeping their life together, a private affair. They are perhaps the only showbiz couple who have successfully resisted offers to photograph or feature their twins, Andres and Atasha, for commercial purposes. Though Aga and Charlene have a slew of advertisements, they have so far refused to bring their babies into the picture.
The twins were cooing and gurgling (in the arms of their grandma Elvie and grandaunt Chona Ampil) as I was talking to Charlene. But she was firm – no pictures, please. Not this time, at least.
This firmness she probably inherited from her strong-willed mother, who raised her and her only brother.
Charlene's strong will she exhibited early in life, when she dieted her way to a beauty-queen figure. She finished BS Psychology in UST despite a hectic schedule, juggling TV and movie appearances. And she did a reprise of her dieting after she gave birth to the twins, losing 65 pounds in the first few months.
"I wasn’t taking in salt, sugar or oil. That’s what I do whenever I feel like I’m gaining weight," says the 119-lb. Charlene. "I also started exercising seven weeks after I delivered the twins (by normal delivery). I played basketball and badminton, sometimes as much as six hours a day."
In protecting the nine-month-old twins’ privacy, she is giving them the gift of a normal life. They can go to the park or the mall and people will think they are regular tisoys from Ayala Alabang, not the children of Aga and Charlene.
"We are not shutting the doors to a public life for our children. That will be their choice when the time comes. But for now, we want them to have a normal life," pleads Charlene, who describes herself as a "hands-on mom."
When the twins were hospitalized for a viral infection about a month ago, Charlene and Aga slept in the hospital with them, aware of their every ache.
I asked Charlene if Aga was ever jealous of the time she spent with the twins. Because they had children right away – some couples opt not to have children during the so-called "adjustment period" – this was not unlikely.
"But we have not experienced that kind of jealousy," says Charlene. " The kids enhanced our lives."
A new mom, Charlene is also a step mom, Aga being the father of a teenaged boy, Luigi (by Janice de Belen).
She describes her relationship with Luigi as "very good."
"With Luigi, I’m just the way I am with my own children," says Charlene.
At home, Aga is the fix-it guy, and Charlene is the queen of the kitchen.
"We complement each other. I love to cook, and Aga likes to fix the house and make sure everything is in order. He’s very neat, very meticulous. He makes my life easier."
He also doesn’t tire of telling her why he loves her.
"All the time! That’s what I love about him!" Charlene says with a visible glow.
Aga’s drop-dead good looks are enough to take her breath away, but Charlene says she looked beyond that.
"I like Aga’s outlook in life. The way he lives life, the way he treats people. That’s what made me know it was him."
So this porcelain-skinned princess has found her prince and he’s no frog.
Aga and Charlene’s desire for a fairy-tale ending for their own love story is heightened by the fact that their respective parents didn’t have happy relationships.
"We both come from broken homes," says Charlene. "And that’s the last thing we want for our children. A good marriage is my biggest goal."
That focus is what douses the fire whenever the couple have misunderstandings.
"When we calm down after a fight, we remember what we fear most – a broken home. We remember how much we want to make this marriage work."
The best way to patch up a rift, says this young wife and mother, is an age-old remedy: "Set pride aside."
For Charlene Gonzalez, wife and mother, happy endings don’t just take place in the movies.
They can be for real. – With Ann Montemar-Oriondo
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
2002 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS
All rights reserved
PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE